Toledo Bans Conversion Therapy & Protects Gender Identity

LGBTQ rights in Toledo Ohio - gay and transgender rights

Yesterday the Toledo, Ohio City Council unanimously approved a measure banning anti-gay conversion therapy while adding gender identity to their city’s anti-discrimination protection classes. While many in the religious conservative community opposed it arguing its mental health counseling requirements would affect them (they won’t), those actually credentialed to provide such care lauded the vote.

The Toledo Blade reported:

Conversion therapy, which is designed to change a person’s sexual orientation, has been discredited by the medical establishment and denounced by gay and transgender groups. The proposed law change, which states “no mental health provider shall engage in sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts with any person,” would make it a misdemeanor of the fourth degree to provide the therapy. Each day in violation would be a separate offense — each with a maximum fine of $250.

Also today, council unanimously approved a resolution that pushes back against recent incidents of prejudice and also President Trump’s controversial immigration ban on admissions from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Council voted 12-0 in favor of a resolution “reaffirming Toledo as a welcoming, inclusive, and safe community for all residents.”

Speaking against the ban on so-called ‘ex-gay therapy’, Wesley Blood (a former pastor who now works for the Northwest Ohio Baptist Association) said, “If a person comes to me and asks me what is the biblical position, I would be breaking the law saying ‘this is what the holy book teaches.”

Though conversion therapy is nearly universally condemned by the medical and psychological community for the dangerous and sometimes deadly effects it can cause, those who wrote the resolution precluded clergy from the definition. Those (such as Blood) who believe they are affected by the ban may indeed face sanctions if (and only if) they are credentialed as a “mental health provider” rather than a church.

The question does arise from Blood’s statement though as to why a church would offer the same mental health services a trained, licensed, mental health professional provides (including the discredited and dangerous conversion therapy).

The larger question of how state officials will react – and if they will follow former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s lead in making Ohio the next boycotted state over an HB2-style law targeting local governments who protect their transgender citizens – is yet to be answered. For the moment, Toledo now adds to a plethora of cities and states across the nation who offer gender identity protections – you can view a full list here.

Tim Peacock is the Managing Editor and founder of Peacock Panache and has worked as a civil rights advocate for over twenty years. During that time he’s worn several hats including leading on campus LGBT advocacy in the University of Missouri campus system, interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and volunteering at advocacy organizations. You can learn more about him at his personal website.

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